Backtalk, September 22, 2008

Cornering the Russian Bear

The article “Cornering The Russian Bear ” is a great article. I really loved it.

It looks like nowadays politicians are insane. For almost half a century the U.S. had a cautious policy toward Moscow. When Stalin, back in 1948, encircled Berlin, cutting off all access to the city by land, the U.S. was cautious enough not to risk a direct clash with the Russian army. Instead of breaking the Russian blockade, the Allies supplied Berlin by air.

When, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Russians installed missiles in Cuba, the U.S. was wise enough not to invade the island. A deal was brokered with Russia.

Nowadays such wisdom is lost.

For 200 years Georgia was part of Russia. The U.S. knew full well Georgia was preparing to attack and conquer South Ossetia by force. In fact, Saakashvili made it a priority of his government to retake the autonomous provinces. Besides, he increased the army budget several times. It was obvious to everyone Saakashvili was preparing for an attack. Despite all that, the U.S. kept supporting him. As late as July 15, 2008, 1000 U.S. troops did joint exercises with Georgia’s military. The exercises were called Immediate Response 2008. Such behavior could only increase the tensions with Russia. After Saakashvili’s attack on Aug. 8, in which 10 Russian peacekeepers were killed, the U.S. kept supporting the Georgian leader.

This is a reckless policy. The world does not need a humiliated Russia. The world does not need an increase of tension between atomic powers. The world does need peaceful coexistence, and U.S. policies did nothing to achieve that goal. The world can live with the war in Afghanistan or Iraq, but mankind could not live with a war between Russia and America. Instead of trying to built better relations between the two major powers, Bush and Condi’s policies only brought tensions to Europe.

~ P. Saraiva, Lisbon, Portugal

Sarah Palin, Neocon Pod Person

“[W]e don’t know much, as she’s being kept as incommunicado as, say, Mordechai Vanunu. I wish Charlie Gibson had asked her about Vanunu. He would’ve gotten a blank stare.”

That is because the MSM has failed to report on Vanunu, but Vanunu does talk and will be back in court Sept. 23, 2008, to learn if he returns to jail for six months for speaking to foreign media in 2004.

I am streaming video interviews of Vanunu from 2005, 2006, and 2008.

In 1985, Mordechai Vanunu listened to his conscience and paid with 18 years in jail, most of it in solitary. During those years the European Parliament, International Peace Bureau, Federation of American Scientists, American Friends Service Committee, Jewish Peace Fellowship, and Episcopal Peace Fellowship all called for his release on humanitarian grounds. Amnesty International has classified Vanunu as a prisoner of conscience.

In 1999, 36 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Clinton calling for Vanunu’s release from prison because they believed “we have a duty to stand up for men and women like Mordechai Vanunu who dare to articulate a brighter vision for humanity.”

2008 is also the 60th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Israel’s statehood was contingent upon upholding:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” (Article 19)

“Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own.” (Article 13)

~ Eileen Fleming, reporter and editor, WAWA; author, Keep Hope Alive and Memoirs of a Nice Irish American ‘Girl’s’ Life in Occupied Territory; producer, 30 Minutes With Vanunu and 13 Minutes With Vanunu

Is George W. Bush the Worst President in US History?

“Make no mistake. George W. Bush has been a horrible president and is one of the worst in U.S. history. But of the 42 men who have served as president, these four men – Polk, McKinley, Wilson, and Truman – were probably worse.”

Mr. Eland, please don’t leave out the dictator Lincoln. Without him, there never would have been an immoral, corrupt, greedy, power-hungry, lying, thieving, murdering, aggressive and imperialistic United States of Empire. The South was right to oppose him and to try and secede from the “Union.” Robert E. Lee predicted what would happen with Lincoln’s consolidation of all the states under an all-powerful central government: “the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.” If I were a modern Yankee, based on the pure evil that now defines our central government on the Potomac, I would not be proud of the fact that my forebears made savage and brutal war against the people of the Southern states. In fact, I would be deeply ashamed.

~ Henry Clemens

I think there are a few points regarding Bush’s regime that are relevant for such an evaluation but did not appear in Eland’s essay.

First, there is a difference regarding Wilson’s involvement in World War I and Bush’s attack on Iraq. That difference is that Wilson did not start World War I. I agree completely with Eland that Wilson’s decision to get involved in World War I was a disaster at every level, but still, Wilson responded to an already existing war. In contrast, the invasion of Iraq was entirely Bush’s doing. There would be no war in Iraq if Bush had not taken the initiative. Therefore all the deaths and all the destruction of the Iraq War must be placed at the feet of George W. Bush, but the same cannot be said of Wilson regarding World War I.

Second, the other presidents who Eland mentions did not plunge the United States into the massive debt that Bush has done. The neocon fantasy that the U.S. attack on Iraq would pay for itself turned out to be a complete delusion, and the result is the greatest indebtedness the U.S. has ever been burdened with. No other president comes close to this colossal economic mismanagement.

Third, Bush has instituted a regime of systematic torture. I’m not convinced that this particularly repulsive aspect of Bush’s regime can be matched by the other presidents Eland mentions. I think the closest would be the U.S. occupation of the Philippines. Still, the creation of torture centers such as Guantanamo and the string of secret detention centers set up for the purpose of torture is, in my opinion, a nightmare particular to this administration.

All of this does not prove that Bush is the “Worst President Ever.” Historians will debate this, and I admit there is a lot of competition for this award. It’s just that I think the above points need to be considered in such an evaluation.

~ Jim Wilson

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